- Player: Thabo Khumalo
- Brand: ToVch
- Established: 2010
- Visit: tovch.co.za
When you don’t have much more than sweat equity to invest, start-up marketing can be a huge challenge, particularly when you are in a cutthroat industry like local fashion. What do you do when you’re competing against trendy overseas brands and cheap Chinese imports, and you don’t have the budget for a big, exciting marketing campaign?
Building on his natural enthusiasm for social media, Thabo Khumalo has built a strong online network as the foundation of a marketing strategy for his fashion brand ToVch, which he describes as a gender-fluid, valiant approach to wearable day-to-day items, as well as more exclusive red carpet, couture, evening and cocktail dresses.
Khumalo launched ToVch in 2010, having taught himself cutting and sewing skills from the age of eight, while helping his seamstress mother with her business.
“On social media, people share your brand with others simply because they want to,” says Khumalo. “It’s a powerful platform, and it does not cost anything.”
“A great way to get your name out there without having to spend any money is by publishing great content on a regular basis. Remember to keep it industry specific,” explains Khumalo.
ToVch does not have masses of followers; instead, Khumalo has smaller audiences, and he communicates through targeted messaging with niche communities that make up the fashion industry — from fellow designers to customers and industry commentators.
“The brand has a dedicated audience, and the social media presence also allows me to continuously scan the fashion environment to keep up with external forces such as new technology, and political, legal, economic and social changes,” he adds.
For start-ups that market and sell highly visual products with strong design elements, like fashion, furniture and décor, images are everything. Social networks like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Vine, can be extremely valuable. That’s where a picture really is worth a thousand words. They are also among the most powerful mediums, because people, not brands, drive the conversation.
Create communities and drive conversation that will build brand awareness, by utilising social media platforms.